As Toronto’s war on bed bugs intensifies, pest control companies have turned up the heat – literally. While in the past, insecticides such as DDT helped keep the bed bug population at bay with residues that continued working after the product was sprayed, today’s bed bugs are resistant to many of these pesticides, meaning alternative remedies are required. To find out what the hottest treatment on the market is, EiEiHome spoke to Dan McCabe, Vice President of Magical Pest Control (www.magicalpest.ca), an expert in bed bug extermination. “We do an average of 125 bed bug exterminations a day in Toronto,” says McCabe. Magical Pest Control is certified to offer a new extermination technique that pumps homes with hot air to bake bed bugs, killing them from the inside out.
Hot air is piped through wide tubing attached to a propane heater. Smaller tubes snake off into other rooms to distribute the heat evenly, creating a life-sized convection oven. At 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the bed bugs, and their eggs, are brought to their thermal death point and die of heat and water loss.
It takes about 15 minutes for adult bugs to die and one hour for the eggs, but the hot air is pumped in slowly for about four hours, allowing the heat to penetrate into every crevice including mattresses, sofas, dressers and wall cavities where bed bugs tend to take refuge, leaving nowhere for them to hide.
After the treatment, it takes a couple of hours for the home to cool down to its normal temperature. “Just like when you cook something in the oven, it takes a while for the heat to come back out again,” says McCabe.
The process has some obvious benefits – there’s little preparation and no chemicals involved. The treatment is expensive – at a cost of about $1 per square foot – however, bed bugs and their eggs are often all killed in only one treatment.
To prepare homes for the treatment, Magical Pest Control recommends homeowners remove aerosol cans and anything that can melt. “Anything you wouldn’t leave in your car on a hot summer day, you wouldn’t leave in a heat treatment,” says McCabe. Vinyl records, oil paintings, chocolate and wax candles should be removed from the home and any medications should be placed in the refrigerator, where they won’t be affected by the heat.
Special to EiEiHome by Lisa Evans